← Back to Blog

Hybrid Deployments in SharePoint 2016 and SharePoint Online

SharePoint 2016 introduces features specifically designed to unify the user experience in hybrid environments, where sites are both on-premise and in the cloud.

Several new features are available in SharePoint 2016 that provide a more integrated hybrid deployment solution for users

Hybrid sites

Prior to SharePoint 2016, if you had some sites on-premise and some in the cloud, users would have two separate profiles, one located in each place respectively. This creates a great deal of cunfustion for users because they don't know which profile they are updating when they access their profile from each environment. Keeping profile properties in sync across both deployments required writing extensive custom code. Users also were left with disconnected lists of followed sites, and since they never knew which profile they were using, that further complicated things since they would follow a site in one place only to find it wasn't present in the other.

With SharePoint 2016's new Hybrid Sites feature, this confusion has been eliminated. Hybrid sites allows users to have an integrated experience while using SharePoint Server and SharePoint Online sites. They no longer have to worry about where they are or which profile they are using. They can follow SharePoint Server and SharePoint Online sites, and see them consolidated in a single list. This is possible because users will now only have a single user profile that is stored in Office 365, and will be accessing that profile and the associated followed sites, even when using the on-premise installation.

Hybrid OneDrive for Business

The Hybrid Sites features described above are also leveraged by OneDrive, resulting in Hybrid OneDrive for Business. Now that we have a single user profile that is stored in the cloud, users are able to sync and share files with others, even people external to the organization. This is possible because, unlike an on-premise deployment, Office 365 is located outside the company's firewalls, making the complexities of remote access or secure VPNs unnecessary. Of course you will have to setup Office 365 as well as OneDrive Redirection for all of this to work, but it allows you to leverage the benefits of cloud storage for your users without having to move all of your workloads to the cloud. Finally, since the files are stored on Office 365, users can access their files directly through Office 365 from any device, on any platform, even from a web browser.

Cloud hybrid search

Cloud hybrid search is a new hybrid search solution alternative that we have all been eagerly waiting for. As illustrated above with regards to the new Hybrid Sites feature and user profiles, prior to SharePoint 2016, customers who were using both on-premise and cloud deployments were forced to have two completely separate search indexes. One was located in Office 365, and another on-premise. Providing an coherent integrated search experience using the Enterprise Search center was difficult because you needed a search center in both deployments with navigation tabs pointing to one another. While users were able to effectively navigate between the two deployments, they often didn't know which search index they were using at a given time, and often times did not know on which deployment the content was located. Any custom properties used would need to be created and maintained in both deployments and were not always properly indexed by when documents were moved back and forth between the two deployments.

With cloud hybrid search, we have a single unified search index, YAY! Now all of your crawled content, including on-premises content, is indexed and made available using your search index located in Office 365. This makes searching for content across both deployments far easier for users as they don't need to know where the content is located before they query the index. It also simplifies the search configuration, and results in a single search center for the entire enterprise, located in Office 365. When users query your search index in Office 365, they get unified search results from both on-premises and Office 365 content. Additionally, you can set up the crawler in SharePoint Server 2016 to crawl the same content sources and use the same search connectors in Office SharePoint Server 2007, SharePoint Server 2010, and SharePoint Server 2013.

Having delivered many large enterprise SharePoint deployments, both on-premise and in the cloud, EASI can help your organization adjust your deployment strategy to take advantage of these new features, while simplifying your existing implementation significantly. Contact us today for more information.